As a brief history lesson, Lollapalooza was conceived and created 22 years ago by Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell in 1991 as a farewell tour for his band. Thereafter, the festival ran annually for six years through 1997. In 2003, the festival was revived as a one-day "tour" concept across North American cities. In 2004, it expanded to two days per city. Unfortunately, ticket sales struggled on the two-day per city touring festival concept and Lollapalooza was cancelled that year.
In 2005, William Morris Agency partnered up with Capital Sports Entertainment (now known as C3 Presents) to turn the festival into a one-weekend, one-city music festival. They chose Chicago, Illinois as the birth city for the overwhelming success that Lolla has become. Like all new endeavors and concepts, Lollapalooza has gone through its ebbs and flows of success and learning. With 100,000 music lovers from across the country turning out each day of the 3-day event this year, 2013 will likely fall under the "success" category for festival organizers.
As a quick preface to a general recap of this year's festival itself, it has to be said that aside from a short stint of rain on Friday afternoon, this past weekend's weather could not have been better for a music festival. This time of year in Chicago can be a brutal time of year, and we're thankful the weather cooperated.
It goes without saying the performances were at the forefront of festivities for weekend. There is no easy way to write about actual performances. Overall, each day was jam-packed with a diverse line-up of bands from every genre imaginable: alternative, folk, rock, hip-hop, pop, and punk. The line-up consisted of well-known headliners, but also gave up-and-coming artists/bands the opportunity to shine. One of our favorite things to do at festivals is check out bands we have never heard of; there's a reason they were invited to showcase their talent. Some bands/artists have grown so much in the past year (when scheduling of stages had already been determined) that they drew in a crowd oversized for the stage they played on.
Because writing about live music doesn't speak as well to the experience than seeing it, we decided to make this recap post a series of videos. Thanks to technology these days, the closest thing to being there is to watch a video of it, so here we go. We'll break down each day by some full sets of performances we deem shareable. We can't take credit for any of the videos below, but thank all of those talented production folks (or really talented iPhone camera users) who put them together. We apologize for the shakiness at times, it's safe to say some people were drunk when filming. Some of the artists that we were unable to grab full sets for still deserve call-outs. We highly recommend checking out Jessie Ware, Chance the Rapper, Crystal Castles, Emeli Sande, MS MR, Tegan & Sara, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar if you ever have the opportunity.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 2ND
Lollapalooza Friday Highlight Video:
Queens of the Stone Age:
The crowd at Queens of the Stone Age's set was different than most. These people were passionate about the band, knew every word of every song performed, and danced like nothing else mattered in the world. There is no doubt that this band's talent and style can't be replicated. The set was a blast from start to finish, and kicked off Lollapalooza the way we remember Lolla always feeling: alternative, rockish, and unique.
The Killers were one of those sets that you go to and you're like, "Wait… I know this song! This is The Killers?! Oh my God, I know this one too… and this one… and this one." The lights were incredible for this set, as was the crowd. Everyone, young and old, knew the words. It was refreshing to see multiple generations come together; The Killers' music is all encompassing when it comes to taste. We enjoyed this set, and it was a good way to end the first day of Lolla (in tangent with Nine Inch Nails).
Nine Inch Nails:
Nine Inch Nails started their set like a blank canvas with “Copy of A” and only Trent Reznor on stage playing the intro. Slowly, as the musical elements were added to the track, each of the band members came on stage, one by one. The main screens on each side of the stage were disabled, drawing the focus onto the stage and the band themselves. The emphasis on shadows and light throughout the stage and the set was obviously meticulously thought out. Giving the effect of shadow puppets, the band members seemed almost trapped in the canvas behind them.
As always with Nine Inch Nails, they know how to please the crowd, playing all of their most popular songs while sounding as amazing as they would if you were listening to one of their albums at home. When they began playing their latest single, “Came Back Haunted”, lights began to show from behind, indicating the true production value of their light setup, but still maintaining an emphasis on shadows. About twenty minutes into their set, during “March of the Pigs”, the curtain that hung behind them dropped to reveal a massive assortment of strobes, spotlights, and lasers all perfectly timed and unique to each song. Rather than give a play-by-play of the whole set, check out the video below:
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3RD
Lollapalooza Saturday Highlight Video:
Ellie Goulding kicked off her set strong on Saturday afternoon with “Don't Say a Word”, leading into all of her fan favorites, including “Starry Eyed”, “Figure 8”, “Anything Could Happen” and finally closing with “Lights”. Getting the chance to listen to Ellie Goulding live definitely made up for the heat and beating sun of the afternoon. Check out the video below.
The Postal Service:
There is no way to really describe the energy of the crowd for this set. Jenny Lewis and Ben Gibbard brought every memory from high school and college to the surface by simply playing their one-album wonder live. Give Up took the music world by storm in 2003, and the concept behind how the album was created speaks measures to the talent encompassed by both artists. It was refreshing and nostalgic to see them come together live in one venue, with one crowd that obviously adored the album as much as we did back in the day.
Mumford & Sons:
This show was electric. It was as if every Mumford fan from the midwest came together for a live hour-and-forty-five-minute sing-along with the band. They played tracks from Sigh No More, a multitude of tracks from Babel, and even a wonderful rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire". The most magical part of the set was when Marcus announced the miracle that is Ted Dwane's (bassist) recovery from brain surgery early on this summer. The band had to cancel their performance at Bonnaroo this year, so we were grateful to see them perform the hell out of their set at Lolla this year.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 4TH
Lollapalooza Sunday Highlight Video:
This music is undeniable and unlike anything we've heard in a while. The uniqueness that the indie rock quartet brings to their albums (and live sets) is something you have to listen to yourself to understand. Was this crowd raving? No. Despite its chill factor, this music somehow finds a way to move the crowd. Looking around at the audience, everyone was dancing like hippies. With their debut album released just last year, they have come a long way.
Vampire Weekend's set was like a fun beach party, really positive vibes and friendly, energetic people. The set design was really pleasing; between the colorful floral pattern in the back, floating columns, and the funhouse mirror center stage, it was all very whimsical, like something out of a Disney movie. Check out their entire set below, and witness their utter professionalism around the 53-minute mark when a fan runs up on stage, gets tackled and removed, and the band doesn't even skip a beat.
Headlining Lolla on Sunday, The Cure played a great set, with high energy and great crisp sound. Even after many many years of performing, they still know how to please a packed venue. While the members have clearly aged visually, their sound has not faded one bit: they played as flawlessly as if one of their records playing over the speakers. Check out their whole set below.
That about wraps up our Lolla coverage. We had a blast this year and cannot wait until next. In the meantime, be sure to follow the folks at Lolla throughout the year for insight into 2014!